Emotional Reasoning

Feelings Aren’t Always Facts

Have you ever felt bad, and then you decide to make it worse by suggesting to yourself that you are unworthy or not valuable? Or maybe that you do not know how to succeed, and failure is inevitable? Some call this a “pity party.”

This is actually Emotional Reasoning, when we decide our feelings are inherently rational and deserve to be followed blindly. It is one of the classic cognitive distortions.

 “I feel nervous, so this must be a bad place.”

“I feel like an idiot, so I must be one.”

“I feel smarter than these people, so they must be stupid.”

“I am anxious, so I probably should not be here.”

 Confusing emotions and facts can happen easily. For example, ever notice how watching your favorite sports team win can make you personally feel more successful?

Emotions alone are normal and healthy. Excitement and sadness both show you care, that you are emotionally invested in the situation.

The problems occur when we separate our feelings from the facts. Feelings are not facts and should not be treated as such.

You can feel sad for losing a contest without labeling yourself a failure. You can feel excited for making a sale without deciding you are invincible. Emotions are good, just don’t let them overrun reality.


About the Author

Glenn S. Phillips works with leaders who want to leverage technology and understand risks within. An author and blogger, Glenn is often quoted in national media, plays a really ugly tuba (it even has a bullet hole) and is a fan of dark chocolate and great puns.